Streetcar extension gets city boost without vote

Streetcar extension gets city boost without vote
Posted at 8:39 AM, Jan 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-19 09:39:34-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Expanding the KC Streetcar got a boost from the city Thursday. The city council adopted a new ordinance making it easier to pay for the extension and setting aside $10,000 for planning purposes.

In August, voters approved a measure requiring a city-wide vote before the city could spend money on the Streetcar expansion. The city and council members argued that measure violated an existing contract between the Streetcar and Kansas City. 

So, council members amended the measure by passing a new ordinance Thursday. The changes allow the city to spend money on planning and pre-construction activities without approval from a city-wide vote. The ordinance still requires a vote to pay for actual construction and buying new land to facilitate the extension.

"It protects the contractual obligations of the city, but it still honors the voters in that future expansion of the streetcar will be subject to a vote," explained former councilwoman Jan Marcason, who spoke in favor of the amendment. 

Opponents argued this change takes voters out of the equation. 

"If we want to expand the streetcar to Berkley Riverfront Park or down to UMKC, and those are both great ideas, then I don't know why we can't just put that on the ballot in April or August and ask the voters to do it then, instead of passing an ordinance today undermining them," said Bryan Stalder. 

The streetcar line currently runs between the River Market and Union Station. There are proposed plans to expand from the River Market to Berkley Riverfront Park, and then south from Union Station to UMKC's campus near Rockhill Road and Volker Boulevard.

The streetcar is free to ride.